By Regina Pratt
On April 27, Sierra Leone celebrated its 61 years of independence after gaining freedom from it colonial master, Great Britain, in 1961.
This piece will attempt to look at some of our lost cultures and social activities over the past 61 years.
61 years down the line, Sierra Leone has lost most of its enviable cultures and social activities due to the outbreak of the war and other calamities.
Masquerade dancing was one of the main cultures that were used to spice up independence, celebration and as a way for people to enjoy the celebration.
However, late Siaka Stevens banned masquerade parade due to the violence nature people presented themselves, but the said ban was lifted after late former President Ahmad Tejan Kabba won the 1996 presidential elections.
Dancing masquerade was one of the means by which politicians to run their political campaigns and masquerade groups like Eastern Paddle, Back to Civilian Rule, Rainbow, Red Indians and other like Hunting and Ojeh societies did make the show palatable.
Independence celebration was visible in both primary and secondary schools as pupils were served food on the day coupled with gift like cups and plates given to school kids.
Our Independence Day celebration is something that should be of memory to us all, but being independent for 61 years we have lost some of our cultures.
Celebrations like the Sierra Leone Daily Mail Trade Fair and Exhibition was an annual event organised by the Sierra Leone Daily Mail at Victoria Park, and the Queen Elizabeth Playing Field now known as Sewa Grounds.
It’s a fair that used to attract business people from all over the country including mining companies who showcased their products and at the end of the weeklong activity the goods are sold at low prices.
Also, the Lantern Parade which was formerly organized on the 26th of April every year has faded away.
Another activity that attracted the public was the ferry excursion held on-board our ferries with a live band show from Targrin to Lungi and Bounce Island.
Sierra Leone earned great respect for its cultural activities, especially when our national dance troop displayed in America, emerging as the best dance troop in the world.
Also, the Afro National Dance Band led by Sulay Abubakarr also won the FESTAC show held in Nigeria where Patricia Abubakarr’s wife led as vocalist and sent the crowd into dancing her Mende song “SONJO.”
The Super Combo kings was another rival to Afro National band which sent the waves in those years with Freddie Green String of Guitar song- ‘Gombu’ and ‘Memuna’ lyrics that is still heard today in night clubs and bars.
We also had the Ochrestra Muyei Power with their song ‘Good Morning Salone, Dynamite Dance Band and the Superb Seven which was mostly seen in school jump activities.
Social activities in school were welcomed with popular schools coming together and forming one club like CONWARDS-a combination of St.Joseph’s Convent and FIGWALLIANS,a combination of the Freetown Secondary School for Girls and the Prince of Wales.
Business people embraced independence celebration as sales of their products increased due to numerous social activities.
Businesses like Paterson Zochonis, the Freetown Cold Storage, CFAO, Blackwood Hodge, Bata, Shoe Company and A-Genet, have been closed down due to the 11-year war.
As a country, we will also miss people like Daddy Loco, popular local musician who usually performed at burials, school march past especially primary schools and the famous Dr. Oloh.
Ebenezer Calendar was another household name in the entertainment industry.
The Taransis, also, is a Susu cultural dance which was mostly organized in the central part of Freetown during the Muslim holidays, but faded away during the war.
61 years of independence, it is but expedient to make Sierra Leone a united nation once again and embrace it culture.